Album Review: Los Doggies, “e’rebody”


Metamorphosis. Whether it’s the caterpillar becoming a butterfly or a streak of paint leading to a portrait, the transition from what we know to what we inevitably conceive is often a linear point A to point B. In my recent experiences reviewing music that case is often the same, whether it be the usual six solemn strings, plying pianos or overstepping overdubs taking hold of the mix. But occasionally, I manage to discover bands that tear the roof off of what I typically anticipate.

Cue Los Doggies, a New Paltz, NY-area prog-rock group that takes that anticipation (as well as genre) and throws it into a creative landscape that’s as innocently twisted as the heart of any Wes Anderson film. Their April 2014 release “e’rebody” (pronounced air-buddy) is a barrel full of complementary synonyms; child-like yet unmistakably adult, melodic but spacy, classical yet aspiringly adventurous. It takes the tongue in cheek lacerations of Pavement and pits them against perfume clouds of 60’s pop psychedelia (“Pari Passu”), religious choirs using metal riffs (“Buddha Thompson”), and Ed Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros rolled through a washing machine of thick guitars and cacophonous voices (“Black Out!”).

Lyrically “e’rebody” is just as much of a tangled epic as it happens to be musically. Like Man Man meets The Flaming Lips, themes are off the wall yet maintain breakneck cohesion through a realm of sex, acoustics, dying alone and the basics truths of music. All while presented through a microscope that’s as much at home crowd-surfing at a rock show as it is hitting the crescendo of a rock opera. As far as this musical canvass goes, I think it’s safe to say Los Doggies puts “e’rebody” through an avant-garde firing squad that’d make Salvador Dali proud.

But melted clocks and mustaches aside, “e’rebody” is a record that has more metamorphosis within it’s confines than a crystalline butterfly with stained glass wings. It flips pop, rock, shaky-handed psychedelics and prog escapism into a witches brew rife with coy humor and bizarro kid’s music. Like innocence meets LSD, Los Doggies plunges the listener deep within a warped and wicked realm that grows a little deeper and a little more strange with each playback. But that, is just part of the fun.

2012 ARCHIVE: Artist Spotlight 2: The Difference Engine

And here is part two of that archive set from 2012. It’s honestly been overdue to get both of these on here, because despite their age I think they’re both excellent, indicative of where I wanna go and what I wanna do as a writer, and I’m immensely proud of both.


So as you likely know by now if you’ve seen the videos I’ve posted here or the reviews I’ve done through this blog, I maintain a steady presence in the realm of musical “commentary” as it were. Generally I do coverage on whatever band or artist happens to catch my fancy at that moment in time, and expand my way outwards from there in a variety of little segments(all of which can be seen here:

Now on a few rare occasions I’ve gotten to work with smaller much more independent artists who were interested in having me do some sort of review for them after seeing what I’m capable of within my projects. Luckily for me in addition to the video coverage I’ve also managed to snag a written interview before this(with singer-songwriter Jessica Allyn in Spotlight 1), and was able to branch out once more to do the same thing again today with rock band The Difference Engine.

Comprised of lead vocalist Alex Ward, drummer Ryan Hahn, guitarists Jason Thomas and Nicholas Vanderveldt in addition to bassist Josh Cook, these St Louis area newcomers look more than ready to make music fans stand up and take notice with their debut EP “Strange Angles”. It may not be very much on their resume to this point, but at present the quintet is already planning on a full length followup to “Angles” that is sure to impress.

But of course besides the musical review side of things(which you can find in full in my video on “Strange Angles” here:, I was as I mentioned also able to ask the band some questions regarding their origins, their musical process, and what the future holds for them going forward. It was a lot of fun and I’m really grateful that they took the time to give some pretty interesting answers!

1. So to start with, what are the origins behind The Difference Engine? I know that the “Strange Angles” EP is your first release to this point, and I was curious to know what the driving factors were behind the formation of this group. 

Alex Ward: The rhythm guitarist(Jason Thomas) and I grew up together. We started off as neighbors, became good friends right away, and have stayed that way ever since. Both of us picked up guitar at an early age while listening to a lot of the same bands. Funny that to this day he is turning me on to new music. At some point we decided to write music of our own and started in. Throughout my bouncing around from state to state and in and out of town over the years, Jason and I somehow stayed in touch and continued, whenever we had the chance, to write and make music together. About nine months ago we were both introduced to Ryan and asked him to record some of the songs that we had written…the wolf pack is now five and we call ourselves, ” The Difference Engine”.

Nicholas Vanderveldt: We all started working together in January of last year. I met Ryan through Craigslist. I moved here in September of 2011, and I was just trying to meet people and play music. Ryan introduced me to Jason, and Jason brought over Alex, and then Josh appeared with bass in hand. Suddenly we were hashing out songs.

Jason Thomas: I’ve had a plan since I’ve been about 8 years old and first met Alex to take over the world with our music. Luckily we finally, after numerous attempts, managed to put together a band with like minded people who share the same passions and a love for music. We wrote some tunes and wanted to give them to the world.

Ryan Hahn: Alex and Jason approached me a year and a half ago about recording some songs and also playing drums on the recordings for them.  We grew up in the same area so we had a lot of mutual friends.. that kind of small town vibe so I think that’s why they contacted me. The driving factors behind The Difference Engine to me, would definitely be the life long friendships that reside within the band between Alex and Jason and with Josh and myself. I’ve known Josh since I can remember… playing in other bands together and growing up together, so there are 2 sets of really great close friendships. I met Nick about a year ago…he’s our transplant from Washington State and our chemistry is really great..its the most important factor I think.

2. Now there are certainly a lot of garage bands out there and musicians that get together casually simply to jam or have fun; what ultimately led to the band seriously deciding that they wanted to get into the studio to make this debut EP? Was it the initial plan going in or did it just gradually get to that point?

JT: Things lead where they lead. I think every band wants to document their sound at any given time. That’s how I view a recording, it’s just a snapshot of a particular point in time.

RH: It just gradually happened. We practiced a lot before starting the whole “recording process”. I live in an old electric substation from the late 1920s and have a recording studio in it. It’s where we rehearse, its the first thing you notice when you set up to practice… so knowing we had access to this stuff there’s no rush or worry about money….or anything so the EP doesn’t sound like we felt rushed or felt we had to compromise artistically too much.

3. To talk a bit more in-depth about the EP, what were the influences behind the style of these songs? In fact what general types of music have had an effect upon the band as a whole? 

AW: Wow, that is nearly impossible to answer, but if I had to name a few bands that influenced my writing I would have to say Naked Ray Gun, anything that Mike Patton has done, Concrete Blonde,The Pumpkins, Fugazi, The Cure, Tool, Radiohead, Supergrass, Guided By Voices, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, Blonde Redhead, honestly the list could go on and on, not to mention the things that creep in while you’re sleeping.

NV: For me the EP is pretty straight ahead rock’n’roll, I tried to conjure up some of the stuff in my head that fit with what we were doing, Funkadelic and Led Zeppelin especially. I’ve always been fascinated by Bebop and free-jazz, as well as ballet music, so I get these little notions in my head, and then I have to figure out how to make them fit in what we’re doing. Sometimes it works great, other times, not so much.
JT: I grew up on punk rock and bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk. I think that stuff informs how I write to an extent, but I also love a good melody, just trying to serve a song and make it the best I can. I don’t know if the whole band looks to one particular style; it’s all rock and roll to me.
RH: Influences… well I grew up listening to my parents music…Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, Tom Petty….but then I got into newer groups like Guided By Voices, Weezer, and The Pixies. But I’ve always analyzed music… I’m a sucker for a good hook in a song. So it doesn’t matter what I’m playing as long as it helps the song I’m playing sound better.

4. I’ve always been fascinated by the process of recording in the studio, what was that aspect like in terms of writing and putting together this initial album? Was that very much a collective process or did it come together more individually?

AW: The great thing about playing with these guys is how each one of us have so much to bring to the table individually. If one of us has an idea, we listen to the idea and work on it, and other than older songs that one of us may want to rewrite or present as workable ideas, most of our stuff just happens. Someone starts playing something and material forms. If something ends up swerving off in an tasteless direction, we put it to the side temporarily and start something new, keeping the pace and excitement of creative curiosities. We’re still evolving as friends and as a sound, so this new thing has plenty more to produce and I can’t wait to hear where we end up in the next nine months.

NV: Most of the songs were well assembled before we started recording them. We spent a lot of time really playing the stuff, and everybody figuring out how their parts fit in with everybody else’s parts. We do a lot of collective arranging I feel like. Someone has an idea, then we all try and develop it and add our own opinions into it. Sometimes it’s hard, and stuff gets put aside because we can’t give enough to a song… it’s gotta sit on the shelf a bit and age before we can take it back down and see all the merit in it.

JT: Totally collective, there were songs people brought in individually but they really didn’t take shape until we got ahold of it as a band and bashed it out. Going back to earlier, I feel like the EP is just a quick snapshot of the band in its first six months.

RH: I know that Alex and Jason had already written “At The Gates”…. it used to be a lot longer, and from the initial recordings when I met those guys to how we play the song now with The Difference Engine it’s much shorter but much stronger. The other songs were very collective and came together at practice…I think Tattoo and Chicago Machine came out of the air in the same 2 or 3 days. We’ve since refined parts of each song but that’s a great moment.

5. I know that you(Ryan Hahn) produced and mixed “Strange Angles” and have done work for other artists in the same capacity. Does that process or mindset as a producer change at all when you’re also a member of the band you’re working with? 

RH: I try to think about what I’m doing on the drums and make sure I’m not being noticed when the vocal melody or another aspect needs to be focused on. But once the drums are recorded and okay’d I become the whipping boy to some degree haha. But the guys do listen to me if I have an idea, but they also listen to everyone else’s ideas and their own so there’s no special attention that I get haha.

6. Now that “Strange Angles” has been in the can and out since mid-October, what’s coming next for The Difference Engine? Are there any details that can be revealed about a full-length album at this point? And will it be an extension of the EP or a new set of material?

NV: We have a bunch of great new songs. Really, we’ve had a lot more time to develop ideas with one another, and open creative dialogues. That goes miles and miles when you’re all collaborating on music. The EP is a nice little prologue to what’s coming.

JT: I think with the full length you’ll see our songwriting get better and the band grow a little. I feel like the songs we’ve written lately are head and shoulders above what we have on the EP. Hopefully we can just continue to improve as individuals and as a band and make the best record we can at that given point in time. Continue to evolve and grow so while we sound like the same band you never know what we’re going to try.

RH: Yeah I’m excited that we were ale to get this EP finished so quickly and to be proud of it too. We’ve already started recording some new material. Also we’ve been working on a lot of new songs… It’s just a matter of time to get them to develop. Not sure if it will be all new music on the full length or if we will use a few songs off the EP that we all really feel strong about. We’re just kind of letting it take it’s course.

If you want to check out The Difference Engine, you can find their Bandcamp, Facebook and Twitter all down in the links below(as well as my review for their EP), and I definitely cannot recommend it enough. It was a pleasure to be able to interview some of the guys from the band, and again I appreciate the fact they helped me put together what turned out to be a great little Q&A.




“Strange Angles” EP Review Promo:

2012 ARCHIVE: Artist Spotlight 1: Singer/Songwriter Jessica Allyn

This is an older piece that I did in September of 2012, which is part one of two excellent indie music collaborations that I did around this time. The first was with an NYC musician named Jessica Allyn and her latest “trip-hop” oriented EP that was due to be coming out then. But I’ll leave the rest to this article, which I think not only shows my creative skills but some pretty cool interview stuff for someone who was new to doing such a thing!

So if you’ve been roaming around my music blog here recently, you may have come across the last cluster of videos that I uploaded to my Youtube page( Whether or not you caught up on those or were hopefully introduced to what I do, the highlight of the whole bunch in my opinion was doing my first ever artist promo video.

In this case I featured a lovely New York City area artist by the name of Jessica Allyn, whom I’ve had the pleasure to follow off and on since somewhere in the period of 2009/2010. Since early 2009 she’s released a stellar debut EP called “I Am A Camera”, a highly underrated full length entitled “Delusions of Grandeur”, a series of demo songs called “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”, and is currently working on more material for future release. Allyn is certainly well traveled within the local NYC music scene, having played alongside a variety of bands as well as providing backing vocals with several others, and she only seems poised to go upwards from here.

At the moment she has a single from her latest effort that was released back in February of 2012 called “2046”(available to buy or listen to here:, and it’s a promising one indeed. Described over on her Bandcamp as “a culmination of Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, Party Drugs, and the obsessive watching of John Hughes movies” and “an experimentation of equilibrium and sound”, “2046” is a tightly woven bit of trip-hop that seamlessly blends into the murky dreamscape of ominously lurking thought and mind. A little snatch of Allyn’s own personal Twilight Zone if you will.

Lucky for me when I passed on my promo video to Ms Allyn she was quite pleased and was also interested in having me do another video for “2046”(which you can see here:, or in the links below). On top of all that she also threw out the idea of doing an interview, so I eagerly assembled some questions to talk more about “2046”, her musical process and where she sees her sound going further down the road. It was a lot of fun and very gracious of her to take the time!

1. With both “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable” and “2046” you mention experimenting with poetry in your music as opposed to traditional lyrics. What was the driving factor that truly brought on this phase of experimentation, and given your success with it do you see it continuing to have a major impact in your work?

I’ve been a huge fan of poetry my whole life, and I had been reading a hefty amount of Sylvia Plath, Michelle Tea, and Eileen Myles at the time. I was profoundly affected by their honesty. It’s something I always felt I bestowed upon my own music. So there was that connection. But mostly it came from just jotting down little blurbs or thoughts I had at any time of day, and seeing what worked together. I definitely want to continue this approach.

2. Also as a followup, as your forthcoming album takes shape will we see the demos from “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable” fleshed out to accompany “2046” in this new direction you’re taking? Given that they seem to come from a similar lyrical mindset it feels as though they’re connected on the same sort of path. 

I haven’t fully decided if I’m going to revisit EPI (The Exploding Plastic Inevitable), because of what it was. An experiment. I enjoy it’s rawness, and it’s a very sacred project to me. With all that being said, the original goal with this new EP was to finish EPI and really go in the direction of sound that I wanted. If I do revisit it at all, it will likely be a last minute add on/bonus track. I have a tendency (and it’s happened on every album) to write a new song, or add a song to the track list down to the wire. So, you never know what I might pop on there. And who doesn’t love the element of a good surprise?!

3. And again in regard to your writing do you often find that your words usually originate from your own personal experiences? I know that songwriting and preparation comes from a different place depending on the musician, and what you had said about “2046” being about “growing up, letting go of the past, and nostalgia at the same time” made me curious about your process.

Yes, I absolutely write from personal experience. I have been given the gift of being a wallflower. So I observe. Then I write. I have moments where I cannot verbally express myself, maybe I want to say “Fuck you!” But, I just can’t because of circumstance. (We’ve all been there.) Instead I jot down a line or two in an more allegoric, intellectual way, and go back to it later to finalize. Every song I’ve ever written has been based off of real life experiences, philosophies, ideas, etc. The only truth I know or see left in this world is through honesty in music. If that dies, so does music. And I see people slipping away from the main idea and it’s happening more and more often. That worries me to the core.

4. Do you see this new sonic direction you’re headed in(incorporating your old influences and a new “Portishead meets Cat Power” style as you dubbed it) as being a turning point in your musical career to this point? Is this the consistent next wave of what your sound is evolving into going forward?

Oh it’s a turn, alright… In the direction I always wanted to go but never could. I got lucky enough to have amazing boyfriend and producer (John Cruess, of The Involvement & The Conformed) who has introduced me to a world I never thought was attainable. I am riding this wave for a while, I want to grow with it, and see where it takes me. 

5. You mention learning a lot about what goes into a studio album as you created “2046” and what will be the rest of your forthcoming work. What have you taken away from that experience going forward as opposed to prior efforts, and how does it compare(if at all) to the craftsmanship that’s involved being live on stage? 

Studio and stage are two very different things. As for prior efforts (ie; past studio recordings,) we had no budget, and it was what it was. But, getting to see how everything works down to a science, the knobs turning, pushing of the buttons plus getting to use all the other amazing toys that come along with it, has been a fucking dream. I like being hands on, I believe it’s the best way to learn. Just dive right in head first and do it. 

The stage was easy for me. It was like doing a cabaret show every night to a punk crowd. I come from a theatre background so it was just fun to be up there every night. It felt like home. 

6. Also speaking of being on stage, with what you’re doing right now in this new genre and with the new territory you’re exploring would this be the kind of material you could see playing live at some point? I know you’re well acquainted with the standard backing of stringed instruments and percussion, but would you put that aside or try to incorporate it and push the envelope live with this new sound? Or are you content to work just within the studio at this point?

I want to bring this album to life, in the stage sense. But it’s not an easy process to do alone. So I’d have to bring in some more people on the project before I take it to the stage. I’ve seen a lot of shows this summer that incorporate the style I’ve been heading toward and definitely picked up on tips. But I want to get this album right, and stay in the studio until I get everything where it should be. But, man, I miss the stage! 

7. Lastly(to touch on a more broad topic here), what are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry? I know that you along with a lot of other artists use Bandcamp now, and Amanda Palmer recently had a major breakthrough with her smash hit Kickstarter campaign. With iTunes and the digital age being in full swing right now, what do you feel the positive and negatives of this have been? And as a sidetone do you listen to a lot of digital or are you a fan of physical media like CD’s and such? And have any other artists really been sticking out to you lately or played an influence on what you’ve done in your work? 

I believe in the grassroots approach. And I’m not afraid to ask for a dollar. However, I have always given away my music at the fan’s choice. Money or not. The goal is to be heard. As for recent controversies on Kickstarter projects, playing for free, etc. I have played for free, and I have also played shows where I made money at the door and took the loss to pay the other musicians and bands I played with. And I don’t bite the hand that feeds. I’m 100% disappointed with the industry right now, and I fear the death of music is around the corner. Creativity and revolutionaries are rare and we are surrounded by the lazy. It’s why I praise nostalgia so much. I want to go back to a place where music meant something, and wasn’t just a ploy or way to make a buck. Where people had something to say and people stopped to listen. I want impact. But I don’t like glorifying artists and I don’t like the way egos are fed.  It’s killed the spirit of what it’s all about. 

I read blogs to find new music, I listen to Spotify, and I go to a lot of shows. But my main influences will always be on vinyl and tape. I’ve seen some great bands lately that have definitely helped in inspiring me like Lemonade, Craftspells, Chairlift and Grouplove. Also St. Vincent, Fiona Apple, and Cat Power’s new albums are huge! And Portishead is my backbone reference on this album. Their brilliance exceeds anything I could ever think up, but the way they make music is so scientific and inspiring that I have to try.

Again if you want to check out Jessica and her music go over to her Bandcamp(which you can find in the links below), along with her Facebook and Twitter pages as well as the video I did for “2046”. It was an honor to work with her on this project as well doing some excellent video analysis, and I look forward to collaborating again in the future!




“2046” Video:

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑